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Home / Articles / Arts / Urban Scout /  Shopping for cool lighting
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Tuesday, Sep 18, 2012

Shopping for cool lighting

Where to find retro fixtures, Edison bulbs, mod table lamps and more

By Alex Zaragoza
urbanscout Typewriter Boneyard’s chandelier made from a salvaged-wood pallet

Jesus may have been the one lighting up Debbie Boone’s life back in 1977, but you may need a little bit more than that if you want to read a book in bed at night. No offense to the bearded one, but your eyeballs are about to burst out of your skull from strain and the light bulb in your lamp is flickering like the fluorescent beer signs at a dive bar. You don’t need a miracle; you just need some new lighting.

Typewriter Boneyard is a local company that creates vintage-style lighting that’s perfect for homes that have a minimalist, rustic feel. Among their products are pendant lamps that resemble old “trouble” lights. What’s a trouble light? It’s a no-frills light meant to illuminate dark places, and Typewriter Boneyard’s is as no-frills as you can get—a light bulb affixed to a wood handle. But, it’s elegant in its simplicity and would look cool in a set hanging above a kitchen counter. Other products include chandeliers made from reclaimed wood and tabletop lamps made from driftwood and from repurposed hardback books—all the sorts of things that would elicit “Where’d you get that?” from visitors. Typewriter Boneyard also sells reproduction Edison bulbs—five different styles—that give off an amber glow and have those cool visible filaments.

Mixture (2210 Kettner Blvd. in Little Italy) has been a favorite stop in this column thanks to its cool, design-minded products and focus on vanguard artisans. The cubed hanging and table lamps by Arturo Alvarez are perfects examples of this. You’ll have to spend some cash (prices for the table-top lamps range from $800 to $1,000), but these are works of art. My favorite is the Cindy table lamp by Kartell, which has a cool, ’70s-space-age look to it and comes in vibrant metallic finishes, like mint green, ultramarine and fuschia. Again, it’s pricey at $289, but if you got it, get it.

British company Plumen touts itself as the creator of the first “designer low-energy light bulbs.” What’s this mean? The bulbs are a sculpturally interesting and use 80 percent less energy than the standard bulb. Two fluorescent coils twist into the sort of shape that’s reminiscent of fancy rope-tying and look almost liquid when you spin the bulb. These things are so cool that they won the Brit Insurance Design of the Year Award in 2011. You can find Plumen at Pigment (3827 30th St. in North Park). The bulbs are $30 each, but you don’t need much more than a hanging cord and you’ve got yourself a stylish pendant light.

Walk into Urban Lighting (301 Fourth Ave., Downtown) and you’ll think you’re in an art gallery. You’ll find lights that are unlike anything you’ve seen anywhere else, like Shine Labs’ pendants that look like they were woven by an artsy spider. For multi-taskers, Phillipe Stark’s D’Elight table lamps double as iPad and iPod charging docs, and for the attention-challenged, the Kundalini table lamp provides light and something to play with—it’s a long attached loop that you can twist and mold into various shapes.

Encinitas’ Grounded Modern Living (897 S. Coast Hwy.) is another spot that’s gotten Urban Scout love for its selection of modern goods for the home and office. Grounded carries lamps by Modernica that are updated versions of lighting that George Nelson designed for Herman Miller in the 1950s. The new version has that midcentury-modern flair but with a contemporary twist via walnut wall mounts and polymer shades.

If you’re looking for something more creative than the flurgen and skapsa or whatever other Swedish-named lamps Ikea stocks, there are plenty of options that will not only light up your life but look good while doing so.

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